July 5, 2016

Riviera Living

riviera living

lake como, italy, riviera livingLago di Como brings to mind images of grand villas rising from the lake, parasol pines spreading their canopies above verdant gardens and red tiled roofs everywhere. Pictured here is the dreamy Villa del Balbianello, exquisite enough for James Bond in Casino Royale. We had taken a vacation in Switzerland, the last stop being one night in Lake Como. I loved being a tourist, an off duty buyer, enjoying the excursion boat tour of the lake (“….and to your right, the villa with the green shutters… is George Cluny’s home..”) as well as walking the steep stone steps of the idyllic, (but crowded) Italian fairy tale town of Bellagio. Wandering around during our hour long stop I spotted some beautiful silk shawls in a shop window.  Little did I know that I was in the European epicenter of silk production and weaving. During the 18th century, silk was the largest export of Lombardy, with many mills near the lake.  A fine silk textile tradition continues to this day.  I quickly snapped up a number of pieces for the store, now long gone, but plan on bringing in a new assortment of these beautiful textiles this fall!

June 26, 2016

Bring The Inside Out!

silk ikat pillows at maison k




I love the earthy and elegant muted tans, blush and nudes of the textiles above – a palette echoed in many of the dresses featured in “Manus x Machina” (Hand and Machine), the Costume Institute’s Spring 2016 exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Like many, I (mistakenly) believed that Haute Couture was the epitome of high fashion because it was all executed by hand for a specific client. This exhibit showcases the fact that both highly sophisticated machine work as well as hand work goes into the creation of these otherworldly dresses. Pictured here is a fitted, yet frothy dress of lace and tulle from the House of Givenchy, Autumn/Winter 2011/12. There are a bevy of festive, fascinating ensembles from many different eras organized by technique: Plissè (Pleating), Dentellerie (Lacework), Plumasserie (Featherwork) – etcetera – the online overview  is an interesting glimpse of the show from the comfort of your home!

May 21, 2016

Easy Breezy For Beach And Beyond

easy breezy summer dresses




We are blessed with so many splendid beaches in California. Up and down the coast there are a myriad of coves and expanses; small beaches and large.  Pictured here is Dillon Beach in Marin County located near the mouth of Tomales Bay.  Tomales Bay is home to a thriving oyster industry – take time out to enjoy the fruits of the sea at Hog Island Oyster and either stay at a private residence in Dillon Beach or nearby Olema and dine enjoying the old world chic of the Sir and Star at The Olema. Then there’s the miles of pristine coast at Point Reyes National Seashore to explore and the drive on Highway 1 through Bolinas to enjoy.  Nearby, don’t miss the Audubon Canyon Ranch where the snowy egrets nest en masse – a magnificent sight to witness.

August 27, 2015

Snappy Stripes – Indigo Blues

indigo blues



BeachThe color combo of blue and white is an universally adored pairing; the African stripe textiles above, indigo blues and white porcelain from China, glazed tiles from Portugal, etc. etc. Perhaps it was a sight like this (left) that inspired ancient artisans to design their wares with this stunning color combo. There are so many names that evocatively describe varying shades of blue: indigo, azure, navy, lapis, ocean, sapphire, denim and cobalt, to mention a few. And there is something cooling just thinking about blue.  It’s been so hot in SB, the perfect antidote is a dip in the sea or a leisurely beach walk.  How many blues do you see?

August 7, 2015

¡Viva La Fiesta!

Fiesta SB



EMBROIDERED MEXICAN TOPSAfter our road trip up the coast, we returned to SB via 101. One of our favorite rest spots is San Juan Bautista, two hours south of Sausalito.  We love to lunch in the garden at Jardines de San Juan where one dines surrounded by colorful umbrellas and brilliant flowers. The local mission was founded in 1797 on the Feast day of St. John the Baptist; hence the towns name.  It was the 15th of 21 missions on the Camino Real (King’s Highway). It is a cornerstone of the community on a spacious plaza that includes several grand period buildings.  The town was a thriving place of commerce and trade until the train was routed through Hollister instead of SJB.  People moved elsewhere, yet the buildings remained as they were for decades and are incredibly preserved because of this slumber.  Now a good portion of the town is included in the San Juan Bautista State Historic Park and people now lovingly restore the adobe and wood structures of the downtown.

August 1, 2015

California Dreaming – The Perfect Accessories

the perfect accessories california style



AquariumAbove the sea (at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park) and below the sea (at Monterey Bay Aquarium), we are on a grand coastal tour from Santa Barbara to San Francisco with our 10-year-old granddaughter. First stop, Hearst Castle – I’d not been since I was a child myself and was awed by the history and vision of this property, created by Hearst and Julia Morgan, California’s first female architect. Next, a scenic drive up to Big Sur and then onto the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a delight to me as I had a passing fancy of becoming a marine biologist! A hundred photos later (jellyfish, sharks, sea anemones, penguins, big fish, little fish galore) we headed to the California Academy of Sciences Museum in Golden Gate park where my all-time favorite creature to date is a manta ray covered in a leopard pattern, stunning! Now aboard a ferry to the city from our home away from home in Sausalito for more great adventures! Perhaps some cake from my favorite bakery in SF, Miette (which means “crumb” in French!

July 22, 2015

Summertime Favorites


summer favorites at maison k



Belt buckles on silver trayOne of the great joys of Marrakech, is seeing things being made right before your eyes.  This quality is what makes everything from there so special; no two things are ever exactly the same. The hand of the creator is in each and every piece – we all can sense this whether we are conscious of it or not. I was attending a semester abroad when I first visited Morocco with 2 friends. Arriving from Casablanca, we were picked up by our guide(arranged for by our friend’s parents who had just celebrated a wedding anniversary there) and were whisked off in a giant old Mercedes.  We left the old city walls and drove out toward the Atlas Mountains.  The sun was setting, the wheat was green in the fields, gently bending with the wind as we arrived at a remote compound.  The giant doors, slowly opened as we drove in…. where we found ourselves surrounded by our guides family; his wife, his grandmother, his uncle, grand babies, goats, chickens, children, etc. etc.  We were made to feel like long lost relatives, the memory is still so precious!   One of my all time favorite travel books is by Jeff Greenwald The Size of the World – the perfect armchair traveler novel.  Another is A Fortune Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terzani. Both are perfect summer reads that will last with you forever.


July 14, 2015

Light and White Summer

Light and white summer at Maison K



Homer paintingThe image left, is a detail from Edward Hopper’s Le Bistro or The Wine Shop painted in Paris.  I love his enigmatic paintings and recently saw several great works at the <NEW> Renzo Piano designed Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. After breakfast at the Donut Plant on 23rd, (situated next to the iconic Chelsea Hotel), we walked west to The High Line and enjoyed an elevated/ urban/arcadian stroll on a former freight line.  The views include classic westside cityscapes as well as a distant view of the Statue of Liberty. The southern terminus of this amazing park is at the Whitney, which is a work of art in itself.  The history of founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, an artist herself, is remarkable, her vision in creating this American Museum, an everlasting gift.  I’m enjoying reading Whitney Women and the Museum They Made.


June 18, 2015

Bohemian Chic

bohemian chic at maison k



bohemian chic style for summer

Padding about in my Bohemian chic sandals from Marrakech, we were on an errand downtown the other day, parking near the SB Historical Society. After completing our task we tucked in for a quick visit, so worthwhile! It’s a fabulous museum dedicated to the history of Santa Barbara, chock-a-block full of  interesting shows, as well as home to a fascinating permanent collection. Founded in 1932, and housed in several locations until this dedicated site was chosen for a classic adobe building (the bricks made on site), it was inaugurated  in 1965. Make sure to stroll the grounds, which include a courtyard, library and two historic adobe buildings. By the way, remember Old Fiesta Days are coming soon, August 5-9.